Hirshhorn Announces Free Timed Passes for Hotly Anticipated Yayoi Kusama Show

The museum is bracing for a blockbuster.

Yayoi Kusama, "The Obliteration Room," 2002 to present. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia. Photograph: QAGOMA Photography. © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Hirshhorn.si.edu.

In anticipation of the blockbuster Yayoi Kusama retrospective coming to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. next month (February 23–May 14), the museum will be issuing free timed passes in order to help maximize the experience for visitors during the show’s 11-week run.

The famous Japanese artist, known for her signature polka dots, is the most expensive living female artist, according to artnet‘s Price Database, and demand for her wildly popular work has only intensified in recent years. The record for the artist at auction is just over $7 million, set for one of her Infinity Net paintings, and, to date, 46 of her works have sold for over $1 million each at auction.

Waiting times for various shows in the past, including a crowd pleasing 2013 “Infinity Room” show at David Zwirner gallery, have reached up to four hours

The Hirshhorn show features six of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror rooms—small spaces that can only accommodate a few visitors at a time—so timed entry makes sense. This is the first occasion in its history that the institution has opted for timed entry passes.

Kusama’s “remarkable Infinity Mirror Rooms are designed to be intimate and immersive,” said deputy director Elizabeth Duggal in a statement. “By offering free timed passes and focusing on visitor experience, we can provide an inspirational and enjoyable museum visit, with the convenience of a guaranteed entry time,” she added.


The general public can access passes for the February 23–27 opening weekend starting February 13 at noon on the museum’s website. Hirshhorn e-news subscribers will gain earlier access, at 11 a.m., described as a “one-time perk.”

Yayoi Kusama. Photo: © Yayoi Kusama; Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo /Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York; KUSAMA Enterprise.

Yayoi Kusama. Photo: © Yayoi Kusama; Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo /Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York; KUSAMA Enterprise.


The timed passes, which will be made available every Monday at noon for the next 11 weeks, are for 15 minute increments in the time between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. A limited number of walk-up passes will be available each day. Duggal said the week-by-week release allows the museum to be “nimble and flexible” for visitors.

Hirshhorn members will not need a pass and will have access to a special line, as well as the exhibition preview.

Additionally, through February 1, the public can enter to win VIP passes for opening weekend by taking a picture of Kusama’s monumental Pumpkin, currently on view in the museum’s plaza, and sharing it on Instagram with the hashtag #InfiniteKusama.

Further, the museum has recruited more than 120 new volunteers and visitor attendants—three times the current number—to welcome and guide visitors during the exhibition. The museum will also offer a heated outdoor visitor facility and expanded free lockers, along with a mobile-friendly exhibition website.

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